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Lessons from Long Beach

Crossing the finish line with Sean

I can’t bank time in a marathon. This wasn’t my strategy, but after LB, I know it’s even more important to start off slow and resist going out too fast. Banking time worked for me in Pasadena, but that was a half and the first third of the race was downhill.

I was running my long runs a little too fast for my goal marathon pace. This was probably why I was stopping a lot. These extra 10-15 minutes were usually spent on water breaks, necessary bathroom stops and waiting at traffic lights. I can’t avoid those, but I shouldn’t have to stop and catch my breath for a moment.

My tempo runs were way too short. They didn’t go over 7 miles. Not enough for a marathon, especially if I want to go under 4:10.

Done. I can smile now. Post-race smiles

I’m much more comfortable when I’m familiar with a course. I know some people enjoy destination races. I have no experience there, but do know that the familiarity of the LA Marathon course gave me a big boost. I ran the final 10 miles as part of a 20-mile long run. I knew what the hills around miles 18 and 20 were like and the ease of running downhill on San Vicente in the final 5 miles. Likewise, I was familiar with the beginning of the LB course since I did the half marathon last year. That might have helped me to start off confidently. The wheels came off when I was at Long Beach State, an unfamiliar area. I won’t be able to preview every course, but I’m sure I can find a race report out there or someone with advice on how to strategically run the race.

My Garmin is great during training, but less useful during a race. First, I didn’t realize I was going out too fast because when I checked my pace I was within the easy and comfortable 9:15-9:30 pace. However, I now know it was running ~9 minute miles thanks to the D-Tag (timing chip placed on your shoe). Second, my Garmin was a little off from the mile markers. Hearing the mile beep go off about a tenth of a mile before the mile marker is enough to mess with your head, especially during the later miles. Third, I didn’t have issues with rain for LB, but I know that my watch has been wonky since getting soaked in the LA Marathon. Last, even on a full charge, the battery won’t last for a nearly 5 hour marathon.

One of several really bad race photos

Last, I’m not a photogenic runner. At all. Yikes.

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3 thoughts on “Lessons from Long Beach

  1. I still haven’t learned the first rule….I cannot let go of my self-destructing belief that I can bank time at the beginning of a race. I have only negative split once — it was my very first marathon, where I was extra conservative at the start because I didn’t know if I would finish. Oh well. Always learning…and hopefully (or more importantly, in my opinion) having fun

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